Chaotic situation in the Middle East, Arab Spring and the Syrian problem

Bahruz Nazarov

Azerbaijan, Baku, The Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan  

DOI: 8388/cshj/763765






Strange vibrations on the situation in Syria and the sudden US friendliness toward Iran cannot but cause concern. A sharp reversal in the policy of this magnitude could mean a new intrigue, changing priorities and allies, and generally indicate the presence of new strategic plan in Washington. The chaotic situation in the Middle East, the basic balance of power in the region and a brief look at the old oil can give a chance to intrigue main intention at the moment of the global player.

Keywords: Arab Spring, The Middle East, Syria, Chaos, Global powers.



At the end of XX century the US strategic planners submitted a plan to the Greater Middle East. The idea, apparently, was to reshape conducted almost at the beginning of the century in the border region in accordance with the realities of the coming of the XXI century. Redrawing plans born shortly after shocked the world "oil embargo" when oil became significant diplomatic weapon. And not only in the hands of the Arabs.

The sharp rise in oil prices, according to rumors, directed by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, according to the plans of the Bilderberg Community [1], on the background of longstanding US-Saudi agreement to sell oil only for US dollars, not only put is gaining force European countries to the brink of a severe energy crisis, but also led to a massive flow of Arab petro dollars skillfully directed in US banks. A sharp rise in world oil prices also meant a rapid increase in demand for US dollars needed to pay for this oil. Obviously, who received dividends in the long-standing affair?

The Arab Spring, raging in the Maghreb and the Middle East is unlikely to mean people's desire for democracy and freedom, but rather a continuation of the construction Greater Middle East according to American patterns. And that is true, the current US policy with one voice declare that in the region of Washington and currently a lot of interest. From the support of allies, such as Israel, to fight against the jihadists. If we compare the real map of the Middle East and the broader Middle East and many more is not done. It is necessary to divide the number of countries to reduce their influence in the region. With Iraq such a policy, "a ride", but there was confusion with Syria. Russia and China intervened, forcing the Americans to moderate their appetites. With the Iran situation is the same. United States, may not be against the country were swamped by cruise "gifts" are just afraid of the response, so put off that option. At least for a certain time.

The dismemberment of Middle Eastern countries plan was created during the rule of the official theory of "peak oil". The news from oil laps around Bush was religiously convinced of the need to ensure energy supplies from the region. Hence the division of Iraq into three states with a "nibble" at the oil coast of Iran, ousting Syria from coast to oil terminals and restrictions in Saudi Arabia and Jordan due to the creation of a new Muslim state around Mecca. Instrument redrawing was elected "Muslim Brotherhood."

US energy independence as a new factor

However, to date, the United States is much less dependent on Middle Eastern oil. According to Henry Kissinger, earlier policy of the US government in the Middle East is directly dependent on the oil market. Now the situation has changed dramatically. Due to an increase of oil and gas production with US fracturing technology is projected to 2020 godu can fully support themselves hydrocarbons. The official theory of "peak oil" seems to have kicked the bucket, and Washington is full of oil optimism.

As a result, the United States does not seek, as before with its former prowess, to intervene in the new Middle East war campaigns, as long-standing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost very expensive, and did not bring tangible dividends in connection with the changed concept.

Minimize reformatting the Middle East plans will inevitably lead to a complete destabilization of the region. And that Washington understands. This, in particular, said in April White House adviser on national security, Tom Donilon. He noted that Washington in the region, there are certain permanent interests of national security, referring to the fight against terrorism, the security of Israel and the "historic stabilizing role as a defender of partners and allies in the Middle East." [6].

However, the situation with Syria shows that the United States currently has no other levers of influence but diplomatic. And they may not be enough. How could benefit from the invested in the last 10 years, "investment"?

The interests of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a major oil producer in the region, the most important producer petrol dollars and the largest financier of international terrorism. The first two factors have determined many years its privileged position as a US ally. The last factor after 11 September 2001, apparently prompted the Washington establishment to look for alternatives. Judging by the fact that in recent times from the lips of politicians began to sound the Arabian obviously unfriendly to the United States speech, the alternative is found [2].

As expressed by one commentator, "hysterical" senior establishment in Saudi Arabia over the recent US moves in the Middle East - a good indicator of the unfolding of a new Middle East intrigue. The Saudis have strongly condemned the US policy in the region. Threatening their long-term allies "major changes" in a relationship that has "not far off". Empty words...

Saudi Arabia needs in the United States, the only way the kingdom to maintain its security and regional influence. If the Saudis stop linking its own foreign policy with US policy, especially when States have been working on the country's energy independence, Arabia risks becoming a useless ally and at one point to be thrown to the margins of history. If that happens, the US government can greatly save on military expenditures in the region, which predictably sink into chaos. For example, in 2020 ...

Possible Winners

US access to a high energy prices, which will give the necessary return on shale oil production, which is now becoming the locomotive of the economy, energy independence, hands free for the final statement of "turning" to the Pacific and the ability to benefit from any hardball problem of its current competitors, chronic oil importers: the European Union, China and a number of smaller players.

Russia will be able some time to continue the current course as a growing exporter of energy, especially if you do not lose the momentum of the current friendly relations with China, but we should keep in mind that the instability in the Middle East can be quite affect the pockets of potential buyers, and even lead to a large war.

Washington has a choice: join the tense and uncomfortable geopolitical alliance with China in the Middle East, or to do nothing, plunging the region into chaos and thereby cutting off the lion's share of China's energy supplies. In the first case there is a chance to keep China on closer economic union with Russia, in the second - to create immediate economic problems of a competitor, but get in the not too distant future, the largest Eurasian Union almost the very Pacific, "U-turn" which stated strategic goal.

Europe has remained without Libyan oil, European refineries are experiencing serious difficulties in connection with the American "oil jerk", they have nowhere to export processed products, a possible military conflict is directly at the borders. The chaos in the Middle East in the 2010s lead to similar results from the "oil embargo" in the last century. It is no accident the European authorities have put a lot of energy on the economy and "green" energy, insuring flying at all stages negotiations on free trade with the United States. It is difficult to say how great their chances to win, in the light of the combined claims not only politically, but economically the EU on the role of a world power and declared "reversal" of the Americans to the Pacific. Europe should understand that the United States it is only used for their own purposes, and once it ceases to be of interest. Europe must become the mistress at home and make their own decisions, not looking at the view of America. Only now the union and the creation of the "United Europe" can bring some fruit, or else ...

Russia together with Europe and its tuned her pipes in this scenario may have on the margins of the world in spite of the temporary gain. A dangerous game in the economic friendship with China is much more beneficial from a strategic perspective. Only China can long withstand the press of high energy prices, thereby sponsoring circumpolar and polar exploration and development. However, lay eggs in one basket, China risks, many in the case of a sudden fall in prices: the fall of imports from Russia and the inevitable dependence on supplies from the United States.

Middle East elimination from the circulation of energy will lead to a major restructuring of the economic, and therefore also the political map of the world.

And the head writer at the moment are the US. When (if) the country will achieve energy independence, it will no longer be interested in the situation in the Gulf. Away the trump card of these countries - cheap energy. America no longer has to spend billions of dollars on military operations and the placement of carriers between the Horn of Africa and the Suez Canal.

But it is unlikely the United States fully leave the region. Waived constitute a waiver of the status of world superpower, and turn to isolationism. And American politicians are well aware, therefore, appear to be in the depths of the American "think tanks" create or have already created a new strategic plan that will satisfy the new demands of the US Department of State.

For example, you can plunge the region into a permanent chaos. As a result of the surge in oil prices, which means that the dollar will strengthen? China and Europe will have to spend more money on the purchase of energy, which will weaken their economies. Business logic dictates that the Americans do not need a strong China, or Europe as an independent competitor. Recently, they have plunged into a financial crisis, and there are now more problems than it has ever been. Create serious troubles energy-hungry China, you can use interrupt supplies from the Middle East. Thus, the controlled chaos in this already volatile region is favorable to the Americans, as it allows restraining the power of the Middle Kingdom. And not that there purpose served previously headed "Muslim Brotherhood", "Arab Spring"?

But for the United States the most important thing - to beat. Sowing chaos in the Middle East, they can thus contribute to a greater rapprochement between Russia and China. To avoid this, probably still planned Brzezinski policy "arc of instability" near the Russian border will be extended to the border with China. Do not forget, considering Russia's interests in this context, about the unstable Greater Caucasus, which could spread the excitement. Russia is important to maintain and strengthen its influence in the Middle East to be able to resist such plans.

Intrigue, twisted in the Middle East at the end of the last century, can have unforeseen and far-reaching consequences for all the major international players, and the winner is not yet evident in this game.

Crumbling walls of Babylon, Leptis Magna and Palmyra symbolize the collapse of the Arab political regimes of the twentieth century. It is possible that we are witnessing far more destructive processes in the Middle East region, such as the collapse of the Arab national state as such. It is not just about changing regimes and the formation of a new geopolitical map, but also on changes in the political identity of the region. Libyans, Syrians and Iraqis may be as part of history, what became the Sumerians or Babylonians.

Dismantling the Iraqi state after the invasion of that country the US military and its allies in 2003 can be compared to undermine one of the pillars of the building columns contemporary Arab world, and the ensuing conflict in Syria could trigger its final collapse. Syrian events will inevitably impact on Lebanon and Jordan is concerned that only superficially seem prosperous islands, untouched by the turmoil.

Baghdad and Damascus played Arab-Muslim Empire a key role in history. In the twentieth century these two cities were the capitals of Arab nationalism. At the beginning of the XXI century their demise symbolizes the end of the era of sovereign states and the Middle East becomes a prelude to the new trends in the region, the contours of which can already see in the fire of the Arab Spring. The situation is similar in the XIII century during the Mongol conquest of the Middle East. If then, after the fall of Baghdad ended with 750-year history of the Arab Caliphate, the current fall of Baghdad and Damascus symbolize the decline of the local era of modernity associated with nationalism, westernization, an attempt to build a political system on the Western model, but taking into account their cultural specificities.

Arab nationalism crisis

Arab nationalism has a special place in the historical development of the region in the twentieth century. During the formation of the modern state in the Middle East, he has played a catalytic role in the struggle against colonialism and other external challenges.

Pan-Arabism was aimed at unification of the Arabs into a single state entity; in turn nationalism in each of the countries in the region came from the need to develop the political nations in the framework of national states. It was based on the ethnic principle; it found a place in it, and Islam (initially as a cultural and civilization phenomenon).

After independence, the nationalists held in the Middle Eastern country's modernization and to ensure their sustainable development in the difficult period of post-colonial history. Historians agree that the defeat of the Arab states in the war with Israel in 1967 caused a crisis of nationalism and change the vector of its evolution.

After these events, in countries such as Egypt, Syria and Iraq, the general idea of ​​faded into the background, giving way to concepts of Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi political nations. By the end of the 1980s, local republican regime entered a period of stagnation, preferring to maintain the status quo in almost all spheres.

Perhaps the last vivid manifestation of Arab nationalism can be considered the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, more like a gesture of despair: History knows many examples when the impossibility of reforming the political system is compensated by the expansion of the military. Joining dwarf monarchies of the Persian Gulf to Iraq could revitalize the dying Arab nationalism and to give it new strength. One of its important concepts were unified homeland, and Kuwait, Iraqi patriots believed originally his own, but at the moment the key actors in the Middle East game showed reluctance to break the regional balance of power and not allow changes in the map of the region. The balance was so important that the offender is not even Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

The emasculation of the ideas of Arab nationalism in the past decade occurred in parallel with a reduction in the efficiency of public institutions and the degradation of the political institutions. Army as a practically only organized and superstructure monopolized authority, changing from the revolutionary force bulwark reaction.

In Arab countries such as Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Algeria, the political regime is a symbiosis of war and big business are often too tied to the armed forces. Nepotism, high levels of corruption, poor social mobility - all this against the background of expectations of growth in the new (and besides numerous) generation has led to a systemic crisis and became one of the causes of the "Arab Spring." The irony was that the changes demanded the grown children of yesterday's reforms in health and education, which so zealously carried out nationalists, but government institutions were busy ensuring their own use and not ready to meet the needs of young people. Instead, the transition from authoritarian rule to a civil society happened a massive civil disobedience,

Not all the nation-states have been destroyed because of the systemic crisis. For example, the Arab monarchies were stronger due to it’s, as it seemed before, archaic forms of government. Autocrats in the eyes of the citizens were more legitimate than elected (even formally) presidents. The paradox is that many progressives criticized monarchical regimes of the Persian Gulf as untenable, because in essence they were simply associations of clans and tribes. Apparently, it was this shortcoming and delivered them from full-fledged crisis.

He escaped collapse, and Egypt once who was one of the leaders of Arab nationalism. It can be argued that the Egyptians moved beyond other peoples of the region to the establishment and development of the nation-state and statehood seemed the most stable. However, Egypt was unable to avoid a serious revolutionary stress as a result of the deep crisis of its institutions.

Power is not collapsed, but was picked up for a while "Muslim brothers". The revolutionary energy of the protesters released so that the ruling class is hardly affected and managed to hold on to power, while maintaining the framework of the nation state. However, if the military-oligarchic regime does not find the strength for a structural reform of the whole system, destructive processes, sooner or later recur and lead to devastating consequences. While it is difficult to believe that the Egyptian military, even after staffing the higher echelons of the update will be able to bring Egypt to a new level.

The question of transition to a new stage of development of the state is connected not only with the dismantling of ideological structures and replacing them with new ones, but also with changes in the functioning of institutions. The crisis of institutions is the main indicator of the nation-state problem - the revival of the political system can be made through human transformation or reform of old institutions. But even this is only a half-measure, and for the next phase of development requires a radical change.

Examples of such changes can demonstrate the developed countries of Western Europe and avoid catastrophic consequences of the crisis, bloodless going to stage transnational state, according to the German sociologist Ulrich Beck, "freed from the territorial trap".

Some Western scholars have long been written off from the accounts of the nation-state and talk about the imminent transition to a global civil society. The globalist future, even the US is doomed to extinction. American writer Jim Harrison calls the US Empire in transition, whose fate - to be a "midwife to democratically governed global system."

While this transition is delayed, and the triumph of global peace talk is premature. Ulrich Beck says today's transnational able to developed Western countries as a transition phase to a global world, where there remains a binding to the nation-state, but the economic and political institutions are already operating as a transnational. Examples of successful transnationalism associated with the creation of regional structures such as the European Union. In a sense, this phenomenon can be compared with imperialism, but the expansion is carried out here by means of economic instruments and means of soft power.

In the Middle East there were institutions that can provide the basis for the transition to the stage of post-national development. As an example, a non-state public movement "Muslim Brotherhood", this seemed to be ready to replace the national military-oligarchic system, which gave the failure in Egypt. It was the social structure of the network on a regional scale and in one form or another was present in many Arab countries. "Muslim Brotherhood" could make Egypt the center of a new Middle East - multinational state with Muslim characteristics.

Unfortunately, the Egyptian "brothers", even getting a majority in parliament and the president, have been unable to go beyond the local social movement and the ambitions of their leaders after the election victory of limited desire to be incorporated into the state system, changing only its trappings. They were forced to choose between two options - to mimic and transform into a new Mubarak to stay in power in their hands, or just give it up and get ready for the next attempt. Both options have not changed the essence of the matter - the nation state of modernity with all its vestiges remained, as well as have not disappeared his vices once already caused social unrest [3].

Another example could be Turkey, were ready to carry out the peace and transition to a post-national formation. In an effort to get into the EU meet European standards, it has implemented major structural reforms, which gave her confidence in their actions. In the early years of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the country has successfully overcome the limitations of the old nationalism, building new relations with our neighbors, which the Kemalist nationalist ideology represented as eternal enemies. Turkey used the soft power of attraction and economic and political model, which combines democracy, market economy, cultural traditions and religion [2].

The changing face of the Middle East

In the context of what is happening in the Middle East, the question arises whether the point of no return is passed to the collapse of the state in countries such as Iraq and Syria? For example, it is obvious that without the power of the rod holding the unity of their territories seems unlikely. Today it is clear that only the rod and was the only factor that unites national Syrian and Iraqi state.

Both of these countries can be stored in its present form only with the active external intervention to risk of geopolitical golems. Hardly any of the superpowers is ready to make serious sacrifices - rather, we see an attempt to pass on to each other the responsibility for what is happening in the region. Russia's military intervention in the Syrian civil war could save Assad, but whether it will be able to prevent the collapse of the nation-state? More likely no than yes. It is possible that Syria and Iraq is waiting for a new redistribution, which will again be carried out with the active involvement of external forces.

US actions, the UK and Western Europe contributed to the collapse of the Middle East. It questions the meaning of such a strategy on the minds of many researchers. Former nation states seemed much more time-tested designs, post-national education than incomprehensible chaos. On the other hand, the "Arab Spring" has shown that the seemingly strong and stable regimes can easily fall apart from the inside.

If we proceed from the realities of globalization, which writes its theorists, today the West is easier to deal with atomized Middle East, selectively embedding into the global system or that part of it. The example of the small principalities of the Persian Gulf, successfully operating in the global economic system, supports this idea.

Growing activity in countries such as Britain, France and Russia, evidence of serious plans related to the new repartition of the Middle East. In the early twentieth century, the young nationalisms (eg, the Syro-Arabic or Hebrew) is oriented to the West, hoping for his help in the self-determination of the decay of the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the influential foreign players bet on various social (ethnic, religious and other) groups turned into political actors in the decay of the nation-state.

This is well illustrated by the situation in Syria: Saudi Arabia supports Salafi groups, the United States and France - the secular opposition, Russia - Assad and the Alawites rallied around him. Implemented by the Yugoslav scenario where external forces siding different actors of the civil war. But if from the wreckage of Yugoslavia managed to get a few new countries (even in countries such as Macedonia), it is difficult to imagine the contours of a possible collapse of Syria.

It is possible that while Syria will remain in the same form as that of Iraq, only legally, de facto representing a mosaic of fragmented community that first pass through a phase of the struggle of all against all for resources and territory to the phase of establishing a balance of power and the establishment of forms of interaction in the absence of previous control from the center.

Divide the cake in the Middle East

Skeptics believe that the collapse of the Arab nations leave behind only a chaotic space with a permanent war of all against all. More than any other situation in the upset nationalists and those who believe the Middle East, that the nation state is the only safe haven for society. It's hard to deny the fact that the disintegration process of passing on the most negative scenario is a tragedy, carrying tens of thousands of lives and generating hundreds of thousands of refugees. It leads to the destruction of the old national elites and the relegation of them to humiliating migration. But similar phenomena - the payment for the destruction of any historical formation, because it suffices to recall, as the empire disintegrated. However, chaos - only a temporary state, and sooner or later it will lead to a new form of organization of Middle Eastern societies.

You can hold historical parallels - once European countries fought for control of the fading Ottoman Empire, is actually maintaining its existence, but eventually came to a decision on the admissibility of its collapse. Today the role of the "Eastern Question" played disintegrating Arab nation-states, with atomization of tribal, sectarian or communal basis.

Together with the Western countries in the Middle East division of the pie participate multinationals. If, for example, France after the First World War had an influence in Lebanon and Syria areas, today we can say that some cities or tribes in Libya or Iraq will come under the influence of large firms. In the fighting on the first roles are not national army and irregular armed groups, mercenaries, private military companies and so on.


Thecollapse of the core of the Middle East countries makes the inevitable revision of the entire geo-political structure, internal and external boundaries of which have been identified yet the British and French on the eve of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire (the Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916). Subsequently, borders adjusted, especially after the First and Second World Wars, but their general shape preserved. One of the most anticipated geopolitical options resuscitation Middle Eastern countries could be a radical revision of the maps of the region and the emergence of new public or quasi-public entities in other borders and to other ideologies. To date, it is clear that reformatting primarily affect the central part of the Middle East - the historical Sham (Greater Syria), and this process will inevitably affect the neighboring territories. In the coming years or decades, the issue of forming the new government or quasi-governmental entities in the Middle East will be the main agenda. New, no longer national, the state will be very different from the previous era powers of Arab nationalism.



[1]William Engdahl "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order ", 2nd edition, St. Petersburg, 2011

[2] UNHCR Web Portal, Syrian Refugees.

[3] UNHCR. Health Information System. Mental Illness Report.

[4] Kane et al. (2014). Mental, neurological, and substance use problems among refugees in primary health care: analysis of the Health Information System in 90 refugee camps. BMC Medicine 2014,

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